Rob Casey is the owner of Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle and is the author of two paddling guides.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Fin Details to Look for in Purchasing an Inflatable SUP

Many of my students are liking our inflatable SUPS thus are now purchasing their own.  A few have bought products we don't have and found out after the purchase that they are limited one type of fin or are lacking something else.

Here's a few things to look in regards to fins for in buying an Inflatable SUP

Many inflatables don't allow you to use fins from other companies as their fins are molded on the board or have specific removable fins (black plastic with removable tab to lock in fin). One of my students purchased a Red Company board that allowed him to replace the fin but the fin box is so short that he's limited to a specific type or length of fin.

Personally, I prefer to remove my fin for easier storing and like to be able to choose the type of fin I want for various types of paddling.

Removable Fin Issues:
Some long board fin boxes are too loose to tight for removable fins. I've experienced both.  In once case the fin box is too wide thus won't take any quick release attachments, only the fin screw and plate.  In another the box is too narrow thus won't take a standard fin as well. Sometimes you can deflate the board a bit, put the fin in, then inflate to full PSI again.

Some fin box types: 

This your standard fin box with a removable fin.

Plastic fin with tab to hold it in place

Fin molded into the board (or glued)

Funky fin attachment

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Using Dish Soap to Find Leaks in Inflatable SUPs

I visited my friend Jim Ramey, a local outdoor product rep to get a tutorial on finding leaks in inflatable SUPs.  Students regularly ask me how to do this, so Jim set up a demo.

Basics of finding leaks:
- Start with tightening the valve using your valve wrench. If it still leaks continue with the following.

- Prepare a bucket of soapy water (soapier the better).

- Find a sponge

- Place your SUP on saw horses or similar.

- Using the sponge, squeeze soapy water over all the seams of your SUP and the valve.  Find the best light in order to see any bubbles that may come out of the SUP indicating a leak.

- If the seams don't present a leak, pour soapy water over the entire surface of the SUP.

- When completed, spray off the board with water to prevent any slippy surfaces especially on the deck.

- How to Patch a leaky inflatable SUP by NRS Here.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Read My Article about SUPs for Boats in PNW Boating

Here's an article I wrote about using SUPs on your boat for the June issue of Waggoner's Pacifc Northwest Boating Magazine

- Choosing a board
- About board construction
- Board storage on your boat
- Clothing and safety gear for paddle boarding
- Benefits of taking a lesson.

Click Here to Read More on Page 66:

June 2015

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Air Compressors for Inflatable SUPs

With the growth of inflatable SUPs also comes the issue of having to blow them up quickly vs an exhausting self air pump session (or good pre-paddle warm-up).  In business, I have to blow up a bunch of these before a gig this don't have time to do it manually.

In researching air compressors, many have told me their SUP air compressors burn out over time.  I did a quick survey on Stand Up Zone and found some info that may be helpful to you from those that have done the testing.  I picked up a Pittsburg Automotive 12v 100 PSI compressor which so far is working but is quite slow, about 15 min to blow up  14' iSUP.

Other tips for compressors - please leave in the comment section below!  Thanks in advance.  

test board : airSUP 12'6 x 30" x 6"

Coleman Sevylor single stage pump : 
14psi : 8:20
15psi : 9:22
$50~60 online / amazon

Holee double stage pump :
14psi : 7:45
15psi : 8:25
(max is 20psi, takes another few minutes)
$120-140~ on amazon?
(re-branded by many)

Bravo BP-12 single stage pump : 
says 14.5psi (actually about 13.5psi?) : 5:20
$100 - 200~ on amazon etc ?
(re-branded by many)

the Bravo seems loudest, followed by the Holee and the Sevylor seems less noisy
however using a dB meter on my phone , it reported they all average about 89dB

I've only used the Sevylor a few times, no problems so far.
Bravo had no problems since the end of 2014 batch seemed to clear most problems they had in earlier times.
Holee I've been using for about 6 months, my go-to pump until now, the 20psi is nice if you need it.
Waiting for Bravo to put out the 22psi version of the BP-12, hope it's not over stressed!

Brett Bennett
Owner : airSUP inflatable SUPs

Read the whole thread on Stand Up Zone

Brett Benett's photo of the above testing session:

Saturday, May 30, 2015

How to Install the Leash Plug String for SUPs and Surfboards

While at my local SUP shop a few weeks ago, a guy came in looking for a leash string.  He didn't know that it's not really a product but rather any strong string you can find to install in around your leash plug, in the video below I'm using parachute cord.  I go to a marine supply store to get extra strong strings but I've seen friends use shoe laces and plastic zip ties. One student even used in a remote area, a Bald Eagle feather (the long hard part) which lasted for a month.  Bungy can be used if there's nothing else available.

Tip: Carry extra sting on you as it can wear down in saltwater and from use. Also a good idea to give extra string to your buddy (or studets) who forgot his/hers.

2 Techniques:

- Find strong string that will tuck under the leash plug pin.
- Cut to desirable length to be able to tie properly.  Overall length once tied should be 3-4".
- Tuck one end of the string under the leash plug pin (metal or plastic pin) and pull out the other side.
- Match the two string ends to each other and tie an over head loop knot (see both videos). Tighten.

Tie the knot before you stick the string in the leash plug.  Push the non knot end under the leash plug pin the send through itself to tighten.  See this video for a better description.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

8 Tips for Running a Successful Surf Camp

I've always wanted to host a surf camp. After some time of researching locations we decided on Oahu for the ease of travel, popularity being a destination and gurantee of surf somewhere on the island at anytime.  Writing this, we're midway through our first camp week and am sharing some tips on running a successful camp. So far it has been successful and we'll run another Oahu SUP camp in the fall.

Pick a location you're familiar with. 
While Mexico sounded great, I've never been there and didn't have the bandwith to travel there to check it out prior to running our camp.  We picked Oahu because we've been there several times, know the breaks, culture, language and it's an easy flight from Seattle where most of our customers came from. If you're not familiar with a location - travel there prior to scope out lodging, local contacts, board vendors and any permits or fees you need to pay to run our camp.

Find a reliable local surf shop that has a good reputation. 
We also chose Oahu as we already had a good relationship with Blue Planet Surf, a Honolulu based surf/SUP shop. The owner is one of our certified PSUPA instructors so we trust him, know he's safe and responsible and runs a professional business.  Plus provided us with gear and his own local certified instructors who know the surf culture, permits, rules, breaks, etc.  Why certified? That's one more level of responsibility and safety from instructors when working in a foreign or unfamiliar location.

Have Your Own Reliable Transportation
Make sure you have your own transportation if the local shop doesn't provide it to run students to the beach, carry boards and gear and run additonal trips to town for food and supplies.

Have Several Instructors
Our camp included three local SUP instructors who each had their own way of doing things thus provided us with a well rounded experience.  Students will identify with each instructor differently as well.

Mix up your days
Sure, I wouldn't mind surfing all day for 7 days straight but most don't have the stamina or drive and would prefer to mix of their days with other activities.  Whether is be yoga, beach walks, private time, island exploration or flat water paddling or kayaking, mixing up your agenda will make those surf sessions even better.  We offered an off day for folks to go their own way or in my case, stay local and get caught up on work, check out the neighborhood etc.

The above point leads to.. How much do you want to socialize with customers?
In remote areas you'll be with your customers most of the time.  In some camps with famous surfers people sign up to hang with famous paddlers so the hosts most likely are there for social time after paddling/surfing.  I inquired to a colleague who hosts surf camps about how he spends his camp time with participants. He said he felt responsible to be present for those that wanted to connect with him and pointed out that the independent folks will take off on their own from time to time.  In contrast to the military where officers and enlisted soldiers stay and socialize in separate quarters, you have to make the call what works best for your situation, personality and location.

Hold Briefs of Daily Sessions
At the end of each session or full day, gather your students for some time to talk about what they learned for the day.  They are there to learn so maximize their time in doing so.  Half way through our week I realized we were surfing and downwinding but not talking about tides, currents, forecasts etc. Evening is a good time to go over land based learning.  But don't over due it by providing so much info that students are always tired and/or may get burned out from info overload. They are on vacation and need need their own time as well.

Course Evaluations
Be willing to ask participants how their week is going, is it going the way they had hoped and what could improve or change.  At the end of the course send out a document again stating the above questions as well as - how was the signup process? did you like the food? was the camp well planned? etc...  The more info you get from them the more successful you'll future camps will be.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

2 Rookie Mistakes for Paddle Boarders

When the masses appear on the waterways in summer (or anytime in tropical places), we begin to see a lot of poor paddling form.  Here's 2 most common mistakes:

Backwards Paddle - "They told me to do it this way."  We've heard that one a few times and unfortantly some of lesser quality instructors probably did teach it. I've seen entire classes with a backwards paddle. What confuses people is that most SUP and many outrigger and canoe blades are canted. This is the 10-13 degree angle of the blade to the paddle shaft.

Correction: The Power Face is the smooth curved spoon shaped part of the paddle that you paddle with. In otherwards it faces behind you while at your feet.  We use the power face as it gives you extra reach forward at the catch (nose) when you take a stroke.  At your feet the blade will be vertical in the water thus will allow for a cleaner exit leading to a smoother transition to feathering then the recovery (bringing blade back to the catch).

If the blade is backwards, you get a shorter reach to your stroke, and at your feet the blade will be curved at a backwards angle thus will scoop water up when you exit the blade from the water.  You'll have to cock your wrists back way back to get a feathered blade on the recovery.  For bracing at your side, the powerface will be upside down and won't give you as much surface area to slap the water with.

Super Long Forward Strokes - I saw a guy yesterday putting the blade in at the nose then with the help of really bent knees, pulled the blade all the way to the tail, then bringing the paddle forward in the air at shoulder length plopped it back in at the nose. It looked like a lot work and unfortantly is very common.

The super long stroke people do to the tail means you're working twice as hard. If paddling upwind we use shorter strokes or cadence to prevent the wind from pushing us backwards sometimes taking the blade out at our toes. If you're pulling the blade out at the tail, you have twice the recovery distance to get back to the catch thus in some wind conditions you won't move forward and even may be pushed backwards. Also when the blade goes behind you your body rotates slightly and can lead to the board turning a bit thus making it hard to go straight. If you finish on the left tail, you'll turn the board right. Use a slight bend in your knees not a full bending which also doesn't add any benefit other than looking like you're working out.

Correction: We take the blade out at your feet or slightly behind as the most useful power for the forward stroke is in the forward part of the board.  Placing the blade in at the nose actually slightly lifts the nose up thus lightening the board. By bending at your waist (called hinging) we reach as far forward as possible putting the blade in adjacent to the nose (or catch), then with a lower straight arm we rotate our torso leading the paddle parallel to the board (power phase) back to the feet.  Using the above correct use of the power face, we exit the blade from the water out to the side slightly and rotate the blade forward into a feather to lead it back to the nose/catch (power face up) just above the water surface (a few inches) while reaching forward again to the catch.  Keeping the blade just above the surface means it's going to have less wind resistance, a more efficient recovery and if you need to brace, the blade is flat and close to the water thus ready for a nice slap on the surface to keep your balance.  While paddling keep you hands super loose on the paddle and body over the center line. How to stay straight? I'll cover the next..